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Webucator's Free jQuery Tutorial

Lesson: Effects

Welcome to our free jQuery tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's jQuery Fundamentals Training course.

jQuery makes it trivial to add simple effects to your page. Effects can use the built-in settings, or provide a customized duration. You can also create custom animations of arbitrary CSS properties.

For complete details on jQuery effects, visit http://api.jquery.com/category/effects/.

Lesson Goals

  • Add jQuery effects to a web page
  • Create custom effects using CSS

Built-in Effects

Frequently used effects are built into jQuery as methods:

  • $.fn.show - Show the selected element(s). Without a duration parameter, the element is shown immediately. With a duration, the height and width of the element(s) are animated from zero to full-size over that duration.
  • $.fn.hide - Hide the selected element(s). Behavior is similar to show, but shrinking the element instead of expanding.
  • $.fn.fadeIn - Animate the opacity of the selected element(s) to 100%.
  • $.fn.fadeOut - Animate the opacity of the selected element(s) to 0%.
  • $.fn.slideDown - Display the selected element(s) with a vertical sliding motion.
  • $.fn.slideUp - Hide the selected element(s) with a vertical sliding motion.
  • $.fn.slideToggle - Show or hide the selected element(s) with a vertical sliding motion, depending on whether the elements are currently visible.
  • $.fn.delay - simply holds the current state for the specified period

You can run a series of effects on an element. If you invoke several effect methods on an element, the effects are queued up and run in succession, as opposed to in parallel (which is where delay comes in handy). You can also add other behaviors that aren't effects to the queue, like changing a class or CSS.

Basic Use of a Built-in Effects

$('h1').show();      // will appear immediately

$('h2').show(1000)   // will appear over 1 second,
	.hide(1000);       // and then disappear over another second

$('h3').show(1000);  // the same thing done as
$('h3').hide(1000);  // two separate method calls

$('h4').show(1000)   // will appear over 1 second
	.delay(1000)       // remain for 1 second
	.hide(1000);       // and then disappear over another second

Changing the Duration of Built-in Effects

With the exception of $.fn.show and $.fn.hide, all of the built-in methods are animated over the course of 400ms by default. Changing the duration of an effect is simple.

Setting the Duration of an Effect

$('h1').fadeIn(300);      // fade in over 300ms
$('h1').fadeOut('slow');  // using a built-in speed definition


jQuery has an object at jQuery.fx.speeds that contains the default speed, as well as settings for"slow" and "fast".

speeds: {
	slow: 600,
	fast: 200,
	// Default speed
	_default: 400

It is possible to override or add to this object. For example, you may want to change the default duration of effects, or you may want to create your own effects speed.

Augmenting jQuery.fx.speeds with Custom Speed Definitions

jQuery.fx.speeds.blazing = 100;
jQuery.fx.speeds.turtle = 2000;

Limitations on Effects

Certain effects are limited in their operation by existing styling. For example, fadeIn modifies the opacity of an element. If the element's styling specifies visibility:hidden, it will never appear (to start initially hidden, you can use display:none, although that also has implications for the space taken up by the element).

If an element's style specifies opacity, then fadeIn will only take it to that opacity.

Queuing of Effects with Other Operations

If you want to perform an operation, such as changing a class, during an effects sequence, you can queue the operation as if it were an effect. The $.fn.queue(callback) function receives a callback function to add to the queue, which will be invoked at that point in the sequence. The function should perform its operation, and then directly or indirectly invoke $.fn.dequeue() on the same selection.

// Shows the element, changes the class
// and then hides it
// notice the use of delay() to allow you to see each effect on the browser

$(document).ready(function(e) { 
	$('h2') .delay(1000)
		 .queue(function() { 

Code Sample:

---- C O D E   O M I T T E D ----
<div id="div1" class="funtimes">Fun</div>
<div id="div2" class="funtimes">Fun</div>
<script src="../../jqy-libs/jquery.js"></script> 
$('#div1')       // try changing to '.funtimes'
	.queue(function() { $(this).addClass('blue').dequeue(); })

The two animations run in parallel, because they affect different elements. Both fade in, delay, and fade out again, but the div2 box changes color due to the queued operation in the middle. If you change the first selector to '.funtimes', then the operations will run in succession, since the first effects chain now applies to div2 as well, so the second set of operations gets added to its queue (div2 will fade in and out twice, once from the first chain, and then again from the second chain).

Callbacks - Doing Something When an Effect is Done

Often, you'll want to run some code once an animation is done -- if you run it before the animation is done, it may affect the quality of the animation, or it may remove elements that are part of the animation. Callback functions provide a way to register your interest in an event that will happen in the future. In this case, the event we'll be responding to is the conclusion of the animation. Inside of the callback function, the keyword this refers to the element that the effect was called on; as we did inside of event handler functions, we can turn it into a jQuery object via $(this).

A callback will be invoked once for each element that the query retrieves.

Running Code When an Effect is Complete

$('div.old').fadeOut(300, function() { $(this).remove(); });

Note that if your selection doesn't return any elements, your callback will never run! You can solve this problem by testing whether your selection returned any elements; if not, you can just run the callback immediately.

Run a Callback Even if There Were No Elements to Animate

var $thing = $('#nonexistent');

var cb = function() {

if ($thing.length) {
	$thing.fadeIn(300, cb);
} else {

Custom Effects with $.fn.animate

jQuery makes it possible to animate arbitrary CSS properties via the $.fn.animate method. The $.fn.animate method lets you animate to a set value, or to a value relative to the current value.

Custom effects with $.fn.animate

Code Sample:

---- C O D E   O M I T T E D ----
<div id="div1" class="funtimes">Fun</div>
<div id="div2" class="funtimes">Fun</div>
<script src="../../jqy-libs/jquery.js"></script> 
		left : "+=300",
		opacity : 0.25
	1000, // duration
	function() { console.log('done 1!'); // callback
		top : "+=300",
		width : 400
	1500, // duration
	function() { console.log('done 2!'); // callback

Note: Color-related properties cannot be animated with $.fn.animate using jQuery out of the box. Color animations can easily be accomplished by including the color plugin. We'll discuss using plugins later in the book.


Easing describes the manner in which an effect occurs -- whether the rate of change is steady, or varies over the duration of the animation. jQuery includes only two methods of easing: swing and linear. If you want more natural transitions in your animations, various easing plugins are available.

As of jQuery 1.4, it is possible to do per-property easing when using the $.fn.animate method.

Per-Property Easing

		left : [ '+=50', 'swing' ],
		opacity : [ 0.25, 'linear' ]

For more details on easing options, see http://api.jquery.com/animate/.

Managing Effects

  • jQuery provides several tools for managing animations.
  • $.fn.stop - Stop currently running animations on the selected elements.
  • $.fn.delay - Wait the specified number of milliseconds before running the next animation.


If this value is true, there will be no transition for animations; elements will immediately be set to the target final state instead. This can be especially useful when dealing with older browsers; you also may want to provide the option to your users.

Reveal Hidden Text

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes.

Open the file jqy-effects/Exercises/index.html in your browser. Use the file blog.js. Your task is to add some interactivity to the blog section of the page. The spec for the feature is as follows:

  1. Clicking on a headline in the #blog div should slide down the excerpt paragraph.
  2. Note that the headlines contain hyperlinks; you should ensure the links do not get followed.
  3. Clicking on another headline should slide down its excerpt paragraph, and slide up any other currently showing excerpt paragraphs.

Note: If the animation seems a bit jerky, try adding :visible to the selector you use to find the excerpts to slide up. This may make a slight improvement, but the real issue is something else, addressed in a second solution file.


$(document).ready(function() {
		.click(function(e) {
			var $h3 = $(this);
			var $p = $h3.next('p.excerpt');

Since the existing HTML uses hyperlinks for the blog items, we need to disable the default behavior by calling e.preventDefault() in the click handler. Note the use of the child selector > to prevent accidentally selecting an unintended h3 that might be in a blog entry.

We slid up only the visible paragraphs - even though it works if we slid up all paragraphs within the chosen items siblings, that seems to perform poorly.


$(document).ready(function() {
	// should really do the following step in a stylesheet	
	// hidden elements have size; this allows jQuery to calculate it
	$('#blog p.excerpt')
		.css( { visibility: "hidden", display: "block" } );
	var time = 500;
	var $blogTitles = $('#blog>ul>li>h3:first-child');
	$blogTitles.each(function() {
		var $this = $(this);
		var $excerpt = $(this).next('p.excerpt');
		var h = $excerpt.height();
		var w = $excerpt.width();
				height: h + "px",
				width: w + "px",
				display: "none",
				visibility: "visible"
		$this.click(function(e) {
			$excerpt.slideToggle(time, 'linear');
				.slideUp(time, 'linear');

The real problem with sliding up and down in jQuery is that the code won't know the actual size of the element until it is fully expanded. Often the animation will incorrectly estimate the actual size, resizing based on an incorrect value, and then have to catch up at the end of the effect. If we let jQuery know what the actual size is, it can perform a better interpolation.

This solution uses visibility: hidden instead of display: none at the start, in order that the sliding element have its natural size. We then measure that size, and explicitly set it with the css function, while at the same time reversing the visibility and display to hidden and none respectively. This could result in a slight flicker as the page loads, but, in practice, the effect seems negligible. Having the correct final size will enable jQuery to better interpolate the height as it slides the element.

We have also used a linear easing, instead of the default swing, which improves the effect even more.

Create Dropdown Menus

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes.

Open the file jqy-effects/Exercises/index.html in your browser. Use the file js/navigation.js. Your task is to add dropdowns to the main navigation at the top of the page.

  1. Hovering over an item in the main menu should show that item's submenu elements, if any. Note that we would not want to show deeply nested elements, just child elements -- otherwise all levels of submenu, sub-submenu, etc., would pop open at once.
  2. Exiting an item should hide any submenu items.
  3. To accomplish this, use the $.fn.hover method to:
    1. add/remove the hover class from the top-level menu elements (this highlights the current item)
    2. slide the submenu (the child ul) up or down as appropriate


$(document).ready(function() {

	// when a nav item is hovered,
	// add a class to it and show
	// any child ULs (dropdowns)
	$('#nav li').hover(function() {

We first locate all the list item elements within the nav unordered list. We then add a hover function that will toggle the 'hover' class, find all the ul children (the submenus) and slide toggle them. As long as the menus and submenus start in an internally consistent state (parent without the hover class and children hidden, or parent with the hover class and children visible), the actions will be in sync.

Create a Slideshow

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes.

Open the file index.html in your browser. Use the file jqy-effects/Exercises/js/slideshow.js. Your task is to take a plain HTML page and enhance it with JavaScript by adding a slideshow.

The following steps have already been taken to prepare the slide show:

  1. Move the #slideshow element to the top of the main element.
  2. Add the cycler class to it. This class uses a fixed size and positioning to avoid having the display become "jumpy".
  3. Find all of its li elements.
  4. Set the display of all of the list items to none.

Your task is to implement the fadeIn function to handle the effects aspect of the script.

  1. Fade the slide at the current index in over a few seconds, display it for a second or so, then fade it out.
  2. Start the process all over again by using this function as the callback for the fade out at the end of the chain above.
  3. The last line of code, in place, will reset the index when you reach the end of the elements.


$(document).ready(function() {
	var $slideshow = $('#slideshow');
	var $slides = $slideshow.find('li');
	$slides.css( { 'display': 'none' } );
	var index = 0;
	function fadeIn() {
		$slides.eq(index).fadeIn(3000).delay(1000).fadeOut(500, fadeIn);
		if (++index >= $slides.length) index = 0;

For this exercise, the setup of the situation was already done. Although it is not overly complex, the exact steps necessary depend on a knowledge of how the fading functions in jQuery work. The absolute and relative positioning defined by the style classes ensures that a constant-size container exists, otherwise the rest of the page could shift up and down as different sized items are displayed. The size should be big enough to hold the largest item.

The items are all set to have display: none, to hide them initially, instead of opacity: 0, because the fadeIn function will stop out at whatever opacity was originally set for the element.

The fading in and out is accomplished with a chain of jQuery's fadeIn, delay, and fadeOut, with a callback to run our fadeIn applied at the end. The incrementing of the index and recycling back to the first item can be done after the chain is created - technically that will occur before the fading in takes place, but the fading code will be locked to its item by that point. Therefore the adjusting of the index will occur before the callback is invoked.